2012.04.16

Built in 1891 for local hotel-owner Thomas Renner, this miniature chateau is a light-hearted, whimsical example of “the modern French style”. Reminiscent of the fabled rural chateaux of the 17th century French nobility, the style was revived as an urban novelty by the lavish 19th century court of the Emperor Napoleon III and the Empress Eugènie of France. The tall chimneys, the curvaceous flare of the mansard roof and the central tower with its ornamental round and pointed dormers are typical elements of French elegance. The classical arched windows on the large box-bays and matching dormers characterize the 19th century influence on the style. It is fitting that this dwelling, like a doll-house from the fantasy world of French courtiers, was once owned by a man who was devoted to children and the benefits of toys and make-believe. Soon after the Children’s Hospital was opened in 1909 with just 16 cots, Dr. Michael Carney was appointed to the staff. This modest medical man spent almost 40 years caring for and curing sick children. Dr. Carney recognized the childrens’ [sic] desire for play and the therapeutic effects of happy hours spent with toys. A new hospital playroom was a “hope closest to his heart”. On May 12, 1954, shortly after his death, an expanded playroom was dedicated in his memory.

I’m still looking for Cameron. The city directories before 1900 are online, but Barrington Street didn’t seem to stretch this far back then. The house is in there, but I haven’t found the old address yet. The Spring Garden branch has the bound directories going back to 1933 (the thirty years between are on microfilm). Really, I just wanted to know who Renner and Carney and Cameron were, but when I started looking at the past occupants of the building, in particular, my apartment, I found a story. In 1940, Roy E. Falkner [sic] moved in. The next year, two people were living in my apartment: Roy E. Faulkner and Geo. P. Starr. By 1945, Roy was gone. George lived alone in apartment 4 until 1979.